An email panic button

Michael Geary | Tue, 2007-04-10 08:31

Today’s USA Today has an interview with David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, the authors of Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home. The article has some good tips, but one remark caught my eye:

They say one thing everyone wants, but no one has invented, is a “panic button,” a short delay after hitting send, like the kind TV networks use to bleep obscenities.

If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, it’s easy to set up a sending delay. I’ve been using one for years. I don’t usually put obscenities in my emails, but it sure is handy for the many times that I’ve forgotten to include an attachment and remembered right after hitting Send.

The feature is fairly well hidden, so Shipley and Schwalbe can be forgiven for not knowing about it. Here is how to set it up in Outlook 2003. The exact steps will vary in other versions of Outlook, but it should be similar.

  1. Starting on the main Outlook window, open the Tools menu and select Rules and Alerts…
  2. Click the New Rule… button.
  3. Click the Start from a blank rule radio button.
  4. Under Step 1, click Check messages after sending.
  5. Click Next >
  6. Don’t select any of the conditions in the list. Click Next >
  7. A message box will warn that “This rule will be aplied to every message you send. Is this correct?” Click Yes.
  8. Click Next >
  9. Under Step 1, click the defer delivery by a number of minutes checkbox.
  10. Under Step 2, click a number of.
  11. A dialog titled Deferred Delivery will open. Choose the number of minutes you want to delay outgoing email and click OK.
  12. Click Next >
  13. Don’t select any of the exceptions in the list. Click Next >
  14. Enter a name for the rule, such as Defer Sending.
  15. Click Finish.

With this rule enabled, when you send a message, it will remain in Outlook’s Outbox for the number of minutes you specified. You can open the Outbox, open your message, and edit it before sending again. The same time delay will apply again.

Beware of one annoying Outlook bug: Depending on what add-ons are installed in Outlook, you may find that after you edit a message and re-send it, it remains in the Outbox and does not get sent at all. You’ll notice that the message in the Outbox list was italicized before you re-edited it, but after sending it the second time it is no longer in italics. This is Outlook’s subtle hint that it is not going to send the message at all!

To work around this, open the message from the Outbox, and before you re-send it, select any other folder in the main Outlook window. Then you can send the message and it will go out as expected. (If you’re curious, after resending the message, you can check the Outbox again and you’ll see that it is italicized, indicating that Outlook will send it after all.)

Submitted by Kevinin (not verified) on Tue, 2007-04-10 12:44.

I have never really thought about this, but now that you have mentioned it … a GREAT idea :) thank you!

Submitted by Michael Geary on Wed, 2007-04-11 13:44.

Thanks, Kevinin. The funny thing is that I used Outlook for years before I stumbled upon this trick. Wish I’d known about it a long time ago!

BTW, I like your kwFretboard program. Nice work!

Submitted by Klettergriffe selbst herstellen (not verified) on Mon, 2007-05-28 02:04.

Good idea,

the email panic button.


Peter :-)